In addition to recommending the Foxfield Inn, we also highly recommend the nearby Ivy Inn Restaurant for dinner. It was as good a meal as the spouse and I have had in long time—innovative dishes carefully prepared. For me, it is not spring until I get some ramps, so I was especially happy to see them during the menu on our springtime visit. The spouse had shrimp and grits, and the grits were special not just because they were a local product, but also by the addition of two cheeses—I think a mild blue cheese and mascarpone—and the shrimp were perfectly cooked.
The spouse loves her Manhattans, but she is a traditionalist, and I was surprised when she ordered a specialty one at the Ivy Inn. She was wowed. It had the now-trendy one large ice cube, which chilled the drink without over-diluting it. The Manhattan had rye (craft, of course), black walnut bitters, sweet vermouth, and the surprise ingredient, Art in the Ages: Root, something we had never heard of before. Our server told us it was a liquor using ingredients that often find their way into root beer. Because we liked the Manhattan so much, we went looking for Art in the Ages: Root and found that the small Philadelphia distillery that made it no longer does so. An internet search, however, found a few stores in New York City that still had some bottles.
The trip to Virginia had the added bonus of getting me to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, when we got back. A liquor store’s website said that a Greenpoint liquor store had some Art in the Ages: Root. Greenpoint borders the ultimate hipsterish part of Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and I was told that hipsters were spreading into Greenpoint, but the liquor store’s environs were untouched by the new Brooklyn. It was still a Polish neighborhood as it had been for decades or longer. I saw butcher shops with extensive displays of sausages and hams. Bakeries were on every block. Still having delayed the start of my diet, I went into one and heard only Polish until I ordered a delicate pastry stuffed with cream and a bread with a poppy seed filling. The liquor store itself was not the usual Brooklyn liquor store that has an extensive wine selection. Wines here were minimal. Instead a thirty-foot long wall eight-feet high of more liquors than I never knew existed. Facing these shelves was refrigerated case after refrigerated case of more kinds of vodka than I had ever seen before. The woman running the place looked hard at me as if no one but regulars came in. I asked for Art in the Ages: Root. She said that she had never heard of it and was sure that they did not have it. I told her that it was on the store’s website. She went to the computer and said in a surprised tone that they did stock what I wanted. She dragged a ladder over and ascended to the highest shelf and hand me a bottle and said they had two more. I told her I would take all three giving me what I assume will be a lifetime supply for the spouse since little of the drink is used in the Manhattans.
The Ivy Inn, besides teaching us a new way to make a Manhattan, also had a good wine list that offered a fair number of local wines. I am not sure that I had ever before had a Virginia wine, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted one–I had doubts that they made even barely palatable wines in Virginia (a lesson extrapolated from once drinking a Pennsylvania wine), but some Virginia stuff could be had by the glass, so I reasoned, what the hell. The server said that while Virginia made some good reds, the region was more known for whites. The spouse and I each ordered a glass. Mine was a passable chardonnay, but the spouse loved hers listed as “Chardonnay and Viognier.” We looked for it unsuccessfully afterwards at our various stops, but as we drove around outside Charlottesville, we now noticed how many wineries the area had. We even saw a sign for a winery that said “Trump.” We did not even slow down.